A federal grand jury indicted six current and former Florida State University (FSU) students and a former University of Florida football player for conspiring together in an alleged credit card scam.The defendants face charges that include bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
The indictment identified the defendants as:
- Kh’lajuwon Amari Murat, 21, of Miramar
- Kadeem Wysler Joseph Telfort, 22, of Miramar, FL
- Voshon Howard, 22, of Miramar, FL
- Jada Tisean Barton, 22, of Titusville, FL
- Ariel Apperlyn Smith, 22, of Coral Springs
- Deshauan Antwaniece Sanders, 22, of Miami
- Desiree Angel Ferreira, 20, of Miami
According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly conspired to defraud financial institutions between July and October 2017.
Smith, Sanders, and Howard are current FSU students, while Barton, Ferreira, and Murat are former students, sources indicate. Telfort was reportedly among nine University of Florida football players who were suspended in 2017 amid a credit card fraud investigation. The other defendants were enrolled at the university through the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) program, which “provides equity and access to minority and traditionally under-represented students disadvantaged for educational and socioeconomic reasons,” according to the program’s website.
Murat and Telfort allegedly acquired credit card numbers from third parties on the internet and through text messages. They used those card numbers to fraudulently deposit money into student accounts, including those of Smith, Sanders, Barton, and Howard.
“The indictment alleges that Murat requested the student account numbers from FSU students and also requested that the FSU students purchase merchandise from the FSU Bookstore using funds that he and Telfort had fraudulently deposited or would later fraudulently deposit into those students’ accounts,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida said in a press release.
The defendants reportedly planned the execution of the scheme by cell phone and text messaging. The FSU students used the money to buy merchandise, which they gave to Murat and others. The students were allowed to keep whatever money was leftover, the indictment claims. In total, the group is estimated to have gotten around $53,000 through the fraud scheme.
If convicted, the named defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each count of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Murat faces an additional two-year minimum prison sentence for each count of aggravated identity theft.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office press release noted that an indictment is only an allegation that a defendant committed a crime and is not evidence of guilt. All of the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial.
Bank fraud and identity theft are serious offenses with harsh penalties. Anyone accused of committing these crimes should immediately hire a competent attorney who can analyze the evidence and provide a realistic assessment of a defendant’s chances of winning at trial.
South Florida Bank Fraud Attorney